Forest official attacked, killed in Telangana
Hyderabad, Nov 22 (PTI) A Forest Range Officer (FRO) was killed after being attacked with axes allegedly by a group of tribals involved in 'Podu' cultivation inside a forest area in Bhadradri Kothagudem district on Tuesday, officials said.
FRO Ch Srinivas Rao, was brutally attacked near a plantation area of the forest in Chandrugonda mandal when he, along with another forest official went there to stop damages being caused to the plantation by some people, they said.
The FRO, who suffered severe bleeding injuries in the attack was taken to a hospital in Chandrugonda and from there he was shifted to a private hospital in Khammam in a critical condition where he succumbed, officials said.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao expressed deep shock and sorrow over the death of the FRO and conveyed his deepest condolences to the bereaved family members, a release from CMO said.
The Chief Minister ordered Director General of Police (DGP) M Mahender Reddy to take legal course of action to ensure the culprits are punished stringently.
Rao announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh to the family of the deceased. He also ordered to give government job to eligible family member on compassionate grounds.
The Chief Minister directed Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to conduct the last rites of the mortal remains of FRO with full state honours and make arrangements for the same.
Rao also directed Forest Minister Allolla Indrakaran Reddy and erstwhile Khammam District Minister P Ajay Kumar to attend the funeral and look after related arrangements closely.
The Chief Minister made it clear that attacks on government employees who are on their duty will not be tolerated. The culprits will be punished sternly.
Indrakaran Reddy in a release said the government is making sincere efforts to resolve the ‘Podu’ land issue, and disapproved of attacks on forest personnel.
He also said that encroachment of forest lands would not be tolerated and tough action will be taken against the encroachers.
Following an information that planation was being damaged by letting in cattle, the FRO along with another forest staff went there to stop it, but suddenly two persons from the Guthi Koya (a tribal group) habitation allegedly started attacking him with axes and he sufferred serious injuries on his neck and head, a senior Forest official told PTI over phone. Another forest official managed to escape.
It seems the two persons (those who attacked the FRO) along with some others were initially cultivating on the land where plantation was subsequently taken up by the forest department, officials said.
The issue of 'Podu' lands (Podu cultivation is a form of shifting cultivation) is a bone of contention with forest officials trying to enforce law in forest areas and those involved in 'Podu' farming resisting it.
The issue has seen friction between 'Podu' cultivators and forest officials in the state with incidents of attacks on forest personnel taking place.
The IFS Association Telangana chapter strongly condemned the incident. Srinivas Rao was the recipient of KVS Babu state gold medal for forest protection in his range in the year 2021, a release from the Association said.
The Association while conveying its condolences to the family members of the FRO said it will request the government to take all possible steps including adequate protection to field officers while discharging their duty of protecting forest wealth of the state.
The Telangana State Forest officers Association also condemned the incident. PTI VVK KH KH